As a career transition coach, people often say during our initial meeting that they are thinking about taking some time off and ask me for my opinion on whether or not this is a good idea. I typically ask them how long and then, depending on their answer, my response is that I am a proponent of getting your job search going immediately.
Granted, for some it can be a good idea to give yourself some time off to let the “sting” of losing your job diminish. Taking the time to decompress, compose yourself, take care of personal needs, and prepare for the job search can help you orient yourself and plan more effectively. However, if your goal is to find re-employment in a reasonable amount of time, the best therapy is to get right back in the saddle and begin searching for your future position. There are two primary reasons for this:
First, there will never be more opportunities or interest in the market than in the first few weeks that you are searching. Many opportunities will not be there if you take too much time off. So, time is of the essence. I cannot tell you how many executives have said to me, “I wish I had listened and started my job search sooner and with more rigor,” or “I think I missed some opportunities.”
The longer you prolong your search, the more opportunities will be filled by other job seekers. Keeping positive and motivated is easier to do when you are rolling off your current job than trying to get back in the game after a few months off.
Second, the marketplace is going to be curious about you and welcome the “new kid on the block.” For many job seekers, unless you have maintained your network prior to this job loss, you may be an unknown to the market. So now is the time to organize and reconnect with your network and create the visibility that is so essential in a job search. It will take weeks and possibly months to create this visibility, and you don’t want to be passed over for opportunities because you were not in the game.
By jumping into your job search hard and fast, you are making yourself known to the marketplace in a timely fashion with a fresh set of skills and competencies that may match a need they are aware of. You will find your network welcoming, excited to reconnect with you and possibly in need of someone just like you.
I also often hear “seasonal excuses” as in, “It’s the holidays and no one is hiring,” “People are away for spring break,” “It’s the summer; everyone is off on Fridays,” as a way to validate or justify taking time off or not actively searching.
From my experience this past year, a “down-market” or a “bad time” to find a job was mostly nonexistent. I had more people networking, interviewing, and accepting job offers during December and January than any other time of the year. One person I was coaching had 2 offers on Christmas Eve. Talk about a present! The lesson…he didn’t take any time off. When his job was eliminated in late October, he went at it hard and fast.
If you launch your search in a timely fashion, you will be more confident, fresh, and energized. You don’t want to put an expiration date on yourself or have to explain what you’ve been doing over the last several months. The job search process can be long, but the sooner you get at it the more opportunities you will have. Corporate America got off the sidelines and back into the game in 2014. They are in it to win. Are you in the game?
Once you land that new job, if possible, push off the start date a week or two, and then you can truly sit back and relax and know that this is a well-earned and deserved break.